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When a game becomes more then just a game.

A few months ago, I traveled to Bellevue, Wash., to visit Sucker Punch, the developer behind Infamous and Infamous 2. I hadn't been there since I previewed the original game in 2008, and within moments of stepping out of the cab this time, buried memories of the first trip rushed back: the Starbucks at the base of the building, the graffiti in the Sucker Punch office, and a conversation I had with Game Director Nate Fox, who told me my wife had one of the sexiest jobs -- flight attendant.

When those mundane memories hit me, I realized the first time I played Infamous was one of the last times I was ever married. It opened my mind to things I hadn't thought about since they happened: my ex and I deciding in a laundromat that we needed to separate, a final fight in a restaurant parking lot, and the first days with my retail copy of Infamous.

My ex finally moving out of the apartment we shared synced up with me finally getting a copy of Infamous, Sucker Punch's third-person superhero game where you could choose to be a good guy or a bad guy. For the first time, I was alone in my apartment and totally screwed up inside, but a game I had been waiting for since its first E3 trailer had finally come into my life. With my personal world completely upended -- my marriage of less than two years had failed, I needed a new place to live, and I was now the sole parent to a wiener dog -- I let myself get lost in Empire City.

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When I maxed out Cole's positive karma, I reveled in cheering crowds and popping flashbulbs. When I needed to be selfish and vent, I punched bystanders to the ground and sucked the life force from them. When I needed to think, I grinded the rails of the elevated train tracks for hours on end, just taking in the sights of a devastated city that kept on living.

I've never played a game as thoroughly as Infamous. I beat the game as a good guy and then as a bad guy. I did every stunt, found every blast shard, and became the first person in the world to ever Platinum the game (that means I got every in-game achievement if you're not of the PlayStation mindset). When I had seen everything there was to see, I kept playing.

I didn't talk to my friends about the divorce, and I hid it from my family for a long time. I didn't even tell my dad what was happening until I was finally moving out. Instead, I'd come home and run wild in Empire City. Cole and Zeke became friends. I mourned Trish as if she was my own. I respected Kessler's mission to make Cole strong for future trials by ruining his happy present.

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Eventually, I bounced back. Life went on, games came out and the world kept spinning. The weight of what Infamous meant to me never became clear as I piled on other memories and new loves, but the game kept popping up in my life. For Halloween, friends and I cosplayed as the infamous cast. For my birthday the next year, my then-girlfriend gave me a signed copy of the game, a custom Cole poster and a slew of other Infamous goodies. When someone asked me what my favorite PS3 game was, Infamous inevitably escaped my lips.

And then June 4, 2010, rolled around. If you don't remember, that was the day Infamous 2 popped up in Game Informer for the first time. It was just a cover image, but it showed a vision of Cole that looked nothing like the hero from the original game. This Cole had hair, necklaces and a douchey v-neck.

Game Informer Cover Story
Game Informer Cover Story

I lost my mind.

Seriously, I've been playing games my whole life, and I've never reacted to a character model change like this. I ranted about it, I wrote articles dissecting it, and I was sick to my stomach over it. I didn't know why I was so upset, but I knew that when it was about 1 in the morning and I was still rambling in bed to my then-girlfriend that I was no longer just "a fan" of Infamous. I had crossed a line with the series, but I just wasn't sure when that had happened.

Then memories rushed back to me, I suddenly understood why I am so tangled up in Infamous, why I care so much about it. Without me knowing it, the first game got me through something incredibly personal and painful in a way that a conversation with a friend never could. I don't like to talk about being hurt, and Infamous didn't make me. It was there for me without asking any questions or passing any judgment. It was a silent companion through the roughest time in my 20-some years on Earth. That's the power of games. They can be two-second experiences you have on your phone or 20-hour epics that takes you across the galaxy, but the ones that truly speak to us can touch our lives and leave marks so profound that we don't even notice them.

Have any of you ever had a game that helped you during a tough time in life?